NASA Introduces 2022 Class of Flight Directors

A photo of NASA’s 2022-class flight controllers who will oversee International Space Station operations, commercial crews and Artemis missions to the moon. The inductees from left to right: Heidi Brewer, Ronake Dave, Garrett Hehn, Diana Trujillo, Elias Myrmo, Chris Dobbins, Nicole McElroy.

Credit: NASA

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NASA has selected seven new additions to its team of flight controllers to oversee International Space Station operations, its commercial crew and Artemismissions to the Moon. The inductees in the class of 2022 are Heidi Brewer, Ronak Dave, Chris Dobbins, Garrett Hehn, Nicole McElroy, Elias Myrmo, and Diana Trujillo.

After completing a comprehensive training program that includes operational leadership and risk management, as well as the technical aspects of flight control and spacecraft systems, these future flight leaders will lead manned spaceflight missions from the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

In this role, these individuals will lead teams of flight controllers, research and technical experts, and support personnel around the world, making the real-time decisions critical to keeping NASA astronauts safe in space.

These highly qualified individuals will be responsible for keeping astronauts safe and conducting manned spaceflights, said NASA Director of Flight Operations Norm Knight. There were many outstanding candidates, both within the agency and within the aerospace industry, which is a good indication of the tremendous talent we have here at NASA and within the growing space community.

NASA’s flight directors are leading missions to the space station and preparing for lunar missions for NASA’s Artemis program. The agency’s total number of flight directors is now 108 since the Mission Control Center’s namesake, Christopher C. Kraft Jr., became the agency’s first flight director in 1958. The new class will be at the forefront of everything humans do in space, following in the footsteps of Apollo-era flight directors including Glynn Lunney, Gene Kranz and Kraft.

Becoming a NASA flight director requires years of study and dedication, as well as a background of professional experience in a stressful environment, requiring rapid decision-making.

I am honored to welcome the Flight Director class of 2022. This diverse group brings an impressive amount of experience flying the space station, launching rockets, piloting Mars rovers and developing interplanetary missions, said acting NASA Chief Flight Director Emily Nelson. These flight controllers and the experience they bring with them will be critical in humanity’s return to the moon and future exploration of Mars. I am proud that they will join our team.

Meet NASA’s newest class of flight directors:

Heidi Brouwer

Heidi Brewer began her career at NASA in 2006 in the Space Shuttle Instrumentation and Communications Officer group. In that role, she supported 19 shuttle missions and was a lead for the final shuttle flight, STS-135. At the end of the shuttle program, in 2011, Brewer moved to the Space Station Integration and Systems Engineer group, where she worked as a specialist in integrating operations and training with SpaceX. She has supported more than 20 Dragon missions for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services and Commercial Crew programs, and served as the lead for multiple SpaceX station resupply missions for NASA, and Axiom Mission 1, the first private astronaut mission to the space station. Brewer was also a lead operations integrator for the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, the Common Communication for Visiting Vehicles ship-to-ship radio system, and most recently, the Artemis human landing system.

Brewer grew up in Marietta, Georgia, graduated from Georgia Tech in Atlanta with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering in 2005, and holds a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Sciences from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Ronak Dave

Ronak Dave began his career at NASA in 2011 in the Pathways Intern Program. After becoming a full-time NASA engineer, he began working in the International Space Station Motion Control Systems Group as an attitude and control officer. In that role, he logged more than 1,000 hours in mission control and supported a commercial resupply mission from SpaceX to a station for NASA. He then moved to the propulsion systems group to support the development and operations of Orion, Space Launch System and Boeing Starliner. He supported the Boeing Starliner Orbital Flight Test-1 mission as a propulsion officer. Most recently, he served as the Ascent Propulsion Officer for the Boeing Starliner Orbit Flight Test-2 mission, assisted astronaut training for the Boeing Starliner Crewed Flight Test, and served as the principal propulsion systems officer for SLS and propulsion officer for Orion for the Artemis. I mission while directing missile operations as an engineer for booster systems for Artemis II.

Dave grew up in Secaucus, New Jersey, and graduated from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering.

Chris Dobbins

Chris Dobbins also began his NASA career in 2011 in the Pathways Intern Program. He began his full-time NASA career as a flight controller for Space Station Environmental and Thermal Operating Systems in 2014, logging over 2,500 hours of console time and serving as lead for the International Space Station Expedition 56 and several spacewalks. He later began supporting the Boeing Starliner spacecraft as an Emergency, Environmental and Consumables Manager flight controller, working in Mission Control for the company’s unmanned flight test for NASA. He most recently served as the takeoff and boarding leader for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2, while helping to develop operational strategies and provide astronaut training for the company’s manned flight test mission, including procedures for responding to manned vehicles.

Originally from Crystal Lake, Illinois, Dobbins is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering.

Garrett Hehn

Garrett Hehn began his career at NASA in 2014 in the International Space Station Trajectory Operations group and was certified as a Trajectory Operations Officer in 2016. In that role, he served as lead for Expedition 50, a commercial SpaceX resupply mission to the space station for NASA, Sierra Space Dream Chaser development and Boeing’s Crew Flight Test. Hehn led an overhaul of an agency’s training flow and has been an instructor for other interns since earning certification as a learning path counselor. In 2018, he expanded his scope to become the lead Artemis II Flight Dynamics Officer while retaining his previous roles. Earlier this year, he received his Flight Dynamics Officer certification for Artemis I.

Hehn grew up in Pittsburgh and graduated from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering and minors in Mathematics and Spanish.

Nicole (Lewis) McElroy

Nicole McElroy joins Virgin Orbit’s NASA flight director team in Long Beach, California, where she worked as a launch director. McElroy started her work at Virgin Orbit as an intern and then returned full-time as a propulsion systems engineer, designing the drive and pressure management systems. She later qualified those systems for flights and led the test campaigns for the first and second phases. McElroy eventually joined the launch operations team as the missile system operator for the first two flights of LauncherOnes. She was launch director for the third and fourth flights, where she was responsible for the entire launch operation timeline.

McElroy was born in England and grew up in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. She graduated as a valedictorian from Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science in New York and received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering in 2015.

Elias Myrmo

Elias Myrmo joined NASA in 2008 in the Flight Operations Directorates Mission Systems Division, where he worked on Mission Control Center systems and information technology infrastructure. Myrmo became a specialist in the use of communications radio frequencies onboard networks in 2010, logging more than 2,000 hours on the console in support of International Space Station Expeditions 32 through 50. Since 2016, he has served as leader of the Exploration Flight Dynamics and Operations Group, responsible for the training and certification of flight dynamics officers for Artemis missions. The group is also responsible for protecting the public on launch day through range safety, as well as for launch day update operations for the agency’s Space Launch System rocket during Artemis missions.

Myrmo grew up in Naples, Florida, and graduated from the University of Central Florida in Orlando with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science.

Diana Trujillo

Diana Trujillo most recently served as the Integrated Planning and Sequencing for Surface Missions Group Supervisor at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. In that role, she supported mission operations for NASA’s ongoing reconnaissance missions on the surface of Mars, as well as the planned Mars Sample Return mission. She previously served as mission leader for the Mars Perseverance rover, where she was responsible for the rovers’ tactical command. team and the team that analyzed the robbers’ telemetry to determine health and condition. She served as surface flight director during the early surface operations of the Mars Perseverance rover, including commissioning the rover and deploying Ingenuity, the first helicopter to operate on another planet. Previously, she was mission leader and deputy team chief for technical operations for the Mars Curiosity mission.

Trujillo was born and raised in Cali, Colombia, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland at College Park, with additional studies at the University of Florida at Gainesville. She is also a graduate of Miami-Dade College in Florida and the NASA Academy at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. In 2021, she received the Cruz de Boyac, the highest honor awarded to civilians by the government of Colombia.

All seven flight controllers will participate in a Twitter question-and-answer session on Tuesday, July 19, where they will answer questions using the @NASAFltDirector account. Visit NASA JohnsonsTwitter feedfor more details.

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